State put four players in double figures with Burns leading the way. The Nashville, Tenn. –native poured in a career-high 25 points on 11 baskets. Tan White finished with 17 points, while being slowed by foul trouble. White had to sit with four fouls midway through the second half. Senior Seneca Anderson produced 14 points and nine rebounds. Kates added 11 points, going three-of-four from behind the arc.
"It's very frustrating because we wanted to win. We've got to make it happen when we are at home, and I'm disappointed in the work ethic that we showed down the stretch," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning. "They (Illinois) out-rebounded us and just out-hustled over the final five minutes."
The Illini battled back to even the score at 40 apiece with 16:54 to play. The Lady Bulldogs responded with a run of their own, outscoring UI 15-9 to take its largest lead of the half at 57-51 at the 10:55 mark. From that point on it was anybody's game. State's last lead came on Kates' trey with 2:33 remaining. MSU had several golden opportunities down the stretch to overtake the Illini, but came up short.
The Orange and Blue shot well from the field, shooting 59 percent for the game, while the Lady Bulldogs shot 41 percent for the game. UI out-rebounded MSU, 41-38.
Angelina Williams led the Illini in scoring with 17 points. Yanni Aminata and Erin Wigley both finished with 16 points apiece. Cindy Dallas recorded a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds. Dallas posted 13 defensive rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs open Southeastern Conference play on Thursday against No. 11 Georgia in Athens, Ga. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET. State opens home SEC action next Sunday hosting nationally-ranked Tennessee.
"Our schedule has prepared us for league play, and I think some of our young players are ready for it," said Fanning. "Tiania (Burns) has enough games under her now, and she understands what it's going to be like. We just have to go out and try to win the next one."